Introducing the Guest Blogger for the Month of December and January – Lisa Ginet

The holidays are nearly upon us and for that reason, our guest blogger’s posts will appear over the course of the next two months as we send out 2016 and welcome in 2017.


Let’s welcome Lisa Ginet to the Math at Home blogoverse.  Lisa comes to us from the Early Math Collaborative at the Erikson Institute where she has been an integral member for many years.  Her expertise comes from years in the early childhood classroom, and as an adjunct faculty member in Chicago.

Since 2009, Lisa Ginet has been a member of Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative, which is transforming the understanding, teaching and learning of early mathematics from the ground up. Before that, Lisa spent more than a quarter century as an educator in various roles: classroom teacher, child care provider, parent educator, home visitor, teacher trainer, and adjunct instructor. She has worked in diverse settings, from child care centers and elementary and middle schools to community colleges and private universities.


During her time working with Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative, Lisa has thought a lot about the essence of foundational math, engaging adults in enjoying and doing math, bringing to life children’s mathematical thinking, and authentic mathematical environments in early childhood classrooms. Lisa will reflect on the lessons she has learned and what they mean for those of us who want to help children love, understand and use math.

10 Math Story Books to Gift Children at the Holidays

Information and ideas presented in story form often stick better than rote memorization. As you plan for the holidays this year, consider adding any one of these charming and engaging children’s math picture books to your family library.

Visualizing large numbers, understanding fractions, having fun with division, or just fine-tuning how you approach problems – all of these books present fun and winning ways to bring math into your children’s lives.

How Much is a Million by Stephen Kellogghow-much-is-a-million

Master children’s book writer Stephen Kellogg’s book has been making large numbers understandable to young readers for generations, and is still the best book out there for visualizing them in an accessible way. No one who has ever read this book will forget that if a billion kids made a human tower it would reach past the moon.

The Pancake Menu by Lucy Ravitch


Lucy Ravitch, who blogs at Kids Math Teacher, has created a winning combination of cooking and eating out in this book aimed at getting kids comfortable with adding costs. It encourages readers to make their own fun pancake creations and figure out how much customers would have to pay if they were running their own at-home restaurant. An imaginative, active good time.


Sir Cumference and the First Round Table by Cindy Neuschwander


Clever all around, this title by Cindy Neuschwander is a rarity – a math picture book with a really great and memorable story. It is a smart take on an inventive side story of the Arthurian saga, about King Arthur’s quest to find a table that can accommodate all of his squabbling knights. If you love it, Sir Cumference and the First Round Table is the first in a series.


Which One Doesn’t Belong? by Christopher Danielson


This brilliant new book by math educator Christopher Daniels, of Talking Math With Your Kids fame is less about teaching right answers than about getting children to ask the right questions. On each page, readers are invited to pick the shape that doesn’t belong and talk about why they picked that shape. But there is not correct answer – just an opportunity to talk about how we think. A must-have.


What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada


It’s a shame that when we talk about solving math equations we equate it with a “problem.” However, this charming and emboldening book What Do You Do With A Problem? by Kobi Yamada. A dark, splotchy problem follows around the unnamed character and haunts his days until he decides to face it head-on. Along the way, this endearing story shows that maybe the problem wasn’t as scary as he thought after all.

The Best of Times by Greg Tang


Greg Tang has a number of math picture books out, but I like this one best. In it, he provides simple instruction for multiplying numbers. Here’s a choice example: “Four is very fast to do, / when you multiply by 2. / Here’s a little good advice – / please just always double twice!”



What’s New at the Zoo by Suzanne Slade


It’s a simple premise: A visit to the zoo yields possibilities for learning how to add. Four monkeys are all carrying babies – how many monkeys are there? What’s New at the Zoo is perfect for early math learners because of how simple it’s questions are and how it engages readers in a real-world problem. Add to that perfect rhyming and some cute pictures and you have the perfect addition to your library.


Full House: An Invitation to Fractions by Dayle Ann Dodds


Dayle Ann Dodds makes this list twice. In Full House, she wraps two learning stories in one book with the tale of Miss Bloom, the proprietor of an inn with six rooms. As guests arrive, Miss Bloom calculates how many of the rooms have been filled. Later, they all share a cake cut into six equal pieces. The illustrations are charming, the lesson spot-on, and the characters funny as can be.


The Great Divide: By Dayle Ann Dodds


When 100 people set out on a marathon, some of them don’t finish in this rousing story by Dayle Ann Dodds. More a concept book than a memorization story, The Great Divide follows the marathoners as, on each spread, half of them encounter a challenges taking them out of the race. In the end, there can be only one – but getting there is the fun in this book.


That’s a Possibility: A Book about What Might Happen by Bruce Goldstone


Some math concepts have as much to do with learning the meaning of words as anything else. Enter That’s A Possibility, a book that teaches students about the subtle differences in the language of possibilities. In popping, colorful illustrations, it leads young readers through a series of situations, defining the terms possible, probable, impossible, and certain along the way. Possibly a must for Christmas?



10 Things to be Thankful For – The Early Childhood Teacher Edition

10.  In addition to our 3 square meals, we get to eat snack twice a day.

9.  We don’t have to wear pantyhose, ever. 

8.  Our work includes snuggling.

7.  We don’t have to worry about the Common Core.

6.  We know what “ooblek” is even if our smartest friends don’t.

5.  Our workday includes reveling in the little things with childlike wonder and excitement.

4.  No sitting at a desk unless it is pretend.

3.  Nobody cares if you have paint on your sweater or a sticker on your forehead.

2.  Sometimes we mistakenly get called “Mommy” or “Daddy” and it gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. 

and… the #1 reason Early Childhood Teachers are Thankful This Thanksgiving is:

We get to spend each and every day with the best kind of people- the little kind.

Introducing Emily Grosvenor – Guest Blogger for the Month of November

emilygrosvenorThis month, Emily Grosvenor is joining Math at Home as our guest blogger.  Emily discovered Math math Home and contacted us last year to tell us about her new book called Tesselation! 

You can’t imagine how excited I was when I heard about her book as most Math at Home readers know that I love Tesselations.  We thought Emily would be a perfect guest blogger for the month of November.  Please welcome her and look for her posts over the next four weeks.

Emily Grosvenor is the author of Tessalation!, a children’s math picture book about pattern, nature and wonder, which was successfully Kickstarted by a group of creative math educators in March, 2016. A magazine writer by profession, she lives with her family in Oregon. Follow her on Twitter @emilygrosvenor.


News from Math at Home

Attention! Attention!  Math at Home Readers!

I am pleased to tell you that our blog is changing course a bit.  Over the past 4 years I have been blogging for Math at Home and have enjoyed (almost) every minute of it.  After over 700 posts we all thought it might be nice for a change.  Therefore, over the next year the blog will be written by an awesome group of Guests Bloggers who are connected in some meaningful way to young children and math.

Over the next few months you will hear from a former preschool director who specializes in creating exceptional environments for young children, a third grade teacher who incorporates fabulous and progressive math into her early years’ curriculum, and a high school math teacher who will write about adult understandings of math concepts.  That is just a taste of what you can expect between now and October.

Keep checking in and engaging in the conversation.  I will still be here both as an administrator of the site and as an occasional writer.  I will continue to post interesting and pertinent articles for you as I find them and will be participating in the dialog as it unfolds.

I am looking forward to this next chapter in the Math at Home project.  I hope you are too.

The 4th of July

Monday is the anniversary of the birthday of our country.  Do you have big plans?  Are you going to finally get some much-deserved rest?  I will spend the day with every television we own on, at full volume, to help drown out the noise of the fireworks in our neighborhood.  They scare my dogs to pieces.

The 4th of July is an opportunity to talk about ordinal numbers with the children in your program.  An ordinal number is one that tells of a position in a sequence.  Therefore, the 4th of July describes the fourth day in the sequence of days in July (the first, the second, the third and then the fourth).

When you talk about this holiday next week with the children, be sure to use this exact math language so that it begins to become familiar and eventually a part of their math vocabulary. Draw a small calendar that only includes the first week of July.  Make 5 squares labeled with 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and then show the children that the 4th of July is on the 4th day of the month, after the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  The day after the 4th is the 5th.  Be specific and use the visual cues that the calendar offers.

Remember, any opportunity to revisit these concepts is just that – an opportunity!

Happy Birthday America!

Math Anxiety and What You Should’t Do

Over the past few years I have thought a lot about math anxiety.  Before the Math at Home project and this blog, I never gave it much thought expect to acknowledge that it is a real thing and it matters.

I wrote about a friend whose life was forever changed by a teacher who told her she was “no good” at math and that one interaction altered the course of her life.  I wrote about how we can battle math anxiety through a variety of techniques and strategies that genuinely work.

Today, I present you with an article from the Washington Post that clearly explains why we need to stop telling children that we are bad at math. Take a look at this article and see how our adult behavior affects children’s performance and attitudes about math.

Early Math Matters

We recently launched the Early Math Matters professional development series.  As a member of the Gateways Registry and an early childhood teacher in the state of Illinois, these courses are free and now available on-line though the ilearning system. In the comfort of your home, you can complete 8 hours of professional development focused on early math!

If you are NOT yet a Registry member, click here for more information.

If you would like to learn more about the Early Math Matters courses, click here.

The Wrong Way to Teach Math

According to last Sunday’s New York Times’ article in the Sunday Review by Andrew Hacker, we are teaching math wrong.  Rather than focusing on algebra and geometry, we should be focusing on “quantitative reasoning” skills – the math skills we will most likely use throughout our lives. These skills support a more comprehensive understanding of the math we need to move through our lives rather than math that exists for most of us only in the classroom.

For instance, many people read newspapers, magazines, and look at advertisements, etc.  In some of these, there is data that supports the articles.  Sometimes the data is in graph form.  Other times it is in percentages.  We, as mathematical literate people need to be able to read and understand those numbers and graphs.  Most of us don’t need to know how to solve for X, when y is imaginary and m=4.  We do need to know how to calculate the square footage of our front lawn in order to buy fertilizer and we do need to know how to understand our phone plan so we can make the most informed decision financially.

Take a look at the article and tell us what you think.  Are we doing it all wrong?